A reasonable take on Ovechkin's hit
OvecBecause there are a lot of extremely passionate words being said about Alex Ovechkin this week, let me briefly highlight a radio interview with Toronto Star columnist Damien Cox, who began his discussion about the hit with something a lot of players in the Caps dressing room have been mentioning: Ovechkin's strength.
"You almost get the sense that this guy doesn't know how strong he is sometimes," Cox told The Fan 590's Don Landry and Gord Stellick Monday morning. "You know, Brian Campbell is a great skater, a guy who's strong on his feet, a guy who's made a living in the league -- even though he's a little guy -- by having a low center of gravity and not being able to get thrown around. And I mean, [Ovechkin] just rag dolls him into the end boards.
And I think it's one of those hits that's really borderline, and I think right now in the league it seems like anything that happens, everybody's screaming suspension, over everything. And some of these are clearly suspendable hits. Two things come to mind because of that, though. A, you can't scream suspension on every single hit. It's a game where people are gonna get hurt, and sometimes they're gonna get hurt on plays that are legal.
"But the second thing is, everybody's screaming suspension all the time, yet all the suspensions are so short, one or two games, I don't think they really make an impact on guys. I mean, Matt Cooke - not to go down that path [again] - but already suspended twice this year, each for two games. Well clearly, if there was a message implicit in those suspensions, he wasn't getting it."
The hosts later referred back to a conversation they recently had with Mark Messier, in which the former superstar talked about the code in the '80s allowed for many more questionable hits, which weren't dissected before the crush of sports on cable and the Internet.
"There's no question," Cox agreed, "and I think that's the bane of Colin Campbell's existence. You know, 10 years ago we don't even see a highlight probably of Ovechkin's hit on [Brian] Campbell. Now you go on, it's endlessly replayed on YouTube, everybody's seen it, everybody's got an opinion. There's an uproar, and I think that that is part of the consequence.
"And hockey's no different from other sports, but there seems to be in hockey a constant drumbeat of legal, quasi-legal, illegal plays that have people up in arms. I mean, it's every day, and I think Messier's right. I mean, it was probably every day during the '80s, except we didn't see em....There's a scrutiny there that just never existed in the game before. That's absolutely true."
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